Wednesday, June 3, 2015

on waking up to live

It is hard to get tough with something you are so close to, no?
Hard to claim the need for refinement in an area of your life.
Revival, even.

Because this one life is too precious to not be focused on what bears fruit.
And revival doesn't come about through walking in the same manner. It starts out as a spark that requires a response. A response to say: I surrender this. Now, please move Holy Spirit.

And I have seen the internet bear fruit. I have watched relationships that I have made on social media bear fruit. Women that pray for me. Women that I pray for. Women I do life with. Causes I have backed. I have lived it out as real as every day life. How meaningful and life changing that is. God has certainly used it for good. And He is certainly using the internet and social media for good in so many others lives.

But I have lost sight of the pruning that needs to be done in spite of the growth.
I have missed the areas in which there is more addiction than good for me.
I have neglected to set boundaries until there is a blurring of lines.

Oh, how I wish I could say my every day mundane habits online or on my smartphone were life giving or gospel focused.
Instead, I often feel like I have absorbed information until I can not anymore.
I have zoned out too often. Numbed myself too much. Neglected prayer. Forgotten emotion.
And left being present.

 I want to, I need to, be present for this life instead of living it vicariously online.

There should not be a sense about me or about you that we are not truly living or that a moment lacks worth, preciousness, or validation because it is not documented online in some form.

We don't need validation from the internet to live and to live well.

And living well is not on the other end of a "like" symbol whether it be a heart or a thumbs up.

Our tastes and voice are not deemed worthy or excellent by a re-pin or a retweet.

And followers do not determine the depth of your words.

You see, you and I all have a precious God-given life even before we decided to share it.
And sometimes I fear that I am placing too much value on sharing the moments, my opinions, my life, my preferences, my style-----instead of just living it out to God's glory.
Outside of the web and all of its space.

Have I forgotten how to live without telling people on the other side of the screen: "hey! I am really living over here!"

Because the internet and social media should not be standing in for face to face community.

And it shouldn't be replacing communion with our husbands and wives.

And our children should know we are present and there because we are.
Someday they will grow and not be here anymore.
And Eden is not going to care about how many followers I had while she was doing that growing.

Time online shouldn't be canceling out dinners or the conversations held around them.
And it shouldn't be the reason we miss going outside in the summer evenings to run through grass and take in sunsets and swim in deep lakes.

It shouldn't be a platform for building our self esteem and making us feel worthy.
Only Jesus can satisfy.
Let me not claim Jesus over something that is more rooted in my acceptance.

It shouldn't be the place where we argue and debate and breed disunity and lack of peace because someone disagrees with us on Facebook.
Invite them over for a cup of coffee. A sit on your front porch. Actually come face to face with another human being and heal the offense.

It shouldn't be the thing I turn to when there is a moment of stillness or blank space.
Have I forgotten how to ride as a passenger in a car with the windows down taking in scenery as it floats by?
Have I forgotten stillness in the evening?

Part of the definition of "revival" is: The restoration to life. Consciousness.

Oh, how I need this in my interaction with social media.
I am asking God to restore the heartbeat of the life that can not hide behind a screen or live vicariously through some created world.
I want to be awake and full of gratitude. I want to be restored to look at simplicity and the present as a gift: fragile and full.
I want to seek what is life giving for me personally and how the Lord has called me to be a life giver on the internet and be done with all the rest.

And it is personal. For you, too.

It's time for me to wake up. It's time to be present.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Whole30 & Type 1 Diabetes: A simple recap

About a month and a half ago my friend Jennifer and I decided to take on (or tackle) the infamous Whole30.
It was one of those things that marinated in my mind for probably too long (raise your hand if you are an over thinker). But, alas, I decided it was time to give it a go and I promptly texted Jennifer asking her to be a comrade in the endeavor.
Extreme life changes are always much more pleasant when someone else understands your craving for ice cream, no?
So, with blood sugars to tame and baby weight to lose, I sat off on this journey all fight-fist forward and glossy eyed. The glossy eyes may have been a result of having to give up cheese for 30 days.

Here is my simple recap of completing Whole30 as a Type 1 diabetic.
Just because our experience with the program might be a little different than the average person with a working pancreas.
Mind you, I am not a doctor. Just your average woman living with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes for over 13 years now. I should also note that I wear a pump as my source for insulin.

1.) Meal prep.
I am not a fan of thinking ahead when it comes to meals. And I don't think I am a fan of slaving over a stove either. But, this will save you from turning into a hungry and angry (hangry) version of yourself during the next 30 days.

Just sit down. And write out some ideas.

I would plan out every meal for the next week. And thankfully, my husband was nice enough to play along for dinner and eat generally what I was eating with some slight modifications.

I bought actual meal planning sheets. And scoured Pinterest and blogs for all the Whole30 ideas.
I prepped some food items on Sunday evening for the week ahead. Such as cutting up my fruits and veggies and hard boiling eggs so they would be readily accessible. If I would get to a meal and not really be feeling it, I would skip ahead in my meal planning week and move some meals around.
I like flexibility but this system needs structure. For your sanity and success.

Especially if you are having a low blood sugar. Which brings me, quite smoothly, into point two.

2.) Prepare for all the low blood sugars.
Depending on what your diet looked like before starting Whole30 and how much insulin you are taking, this is important to acknowledge.

You know how when you have a low you want to eat absolutely everything in your kitchen? And the weirdest combinations? Like, I think I'll have some cheese and a bowl of cereal. Together.

Well, like my father so eloquently coined a couple years ago: "anticipate the low."
Get it. Because it is coming.

I moved all my husband's junk food into his own drawer in the kitchen. So, I would have zero reason to look in there and be tempted. This is especially helpful when you wake up in the middle of the night shaking and sweating and needing sugar.

I would recommend watching your blood sugar very closely for the first few days...even the first week. I was checking 8-11 times a day. Think pregnancy status here peeps.

You need to know how your basal rate is doing (or long acting insulin if you are on injections) and if you need to bolus for your meals. Which I got to a point where I was literally hardly ever bolusing because my sugar was so level and low.
This may mean you need to include some more fruit in your Whole30 regimen than what is recommended. But, until you can get in that sweet spot of insulin adjustments, it's a better option than passing out.

For my total 30 days I had significantly lower blood sugar overall. I had to fight through quite a few lows though. Reduced my basal rate. And reduced the amount of insulin I was taking total in a day by over half! My average 30 day blood sugar number dropped by over 40 points. That is amazing.

3.) Take in some grace.
SO, I pep talk the low blood sugar stuff because you may need to take a big gulp of grace in all this. I had an emergency low at some point during my first week and had to eat the only thing I had on hand: a granola bar of sorts.

This was discouraging  to my attitude of perfection but necessary to my well being at that moment. Don't let a set back knock you out completely. The end effect is so helpful to your overall blood sugar. Think big picture.

Also, make sure you are always carrying some fruit. Buy enough fruit. Thinking ahead about your blood sugar is the best way to stay in this. And don't get discouraged if you have a hiccup that is blood sugar related. Your body functions differently. And therefore different needs need to be met.

4.) The symptoms.
Also, be aware that if you haven't heard this before the first week is the hardest. Day 1 I thought I was the diabetic queen of Whole30. Day 2 I started my "detox" symptoms. There went my kingdom. Basically, I had a headache all day and felt extremely fatigued.

This lasted into day 3. By day 4 I was an angry, hungry diabetic. And by day 7 I was peeing (too much information?) every 30 minutes or so. I don't think everyone experiences this (I looked it up) but some people are releasing all that extra water retention from being chronically dehydrated. And this to shall pass. It does get better.

5.) The benefits.
Eventually, as my sugars began to level out, I lost the need to snack (especially in the evening). I was satisfied after every meal. My energy levels and fatigue began to balance out as well. I know a lot of diabetics (including myself) deal with that constant battle of tiredness and just feeling plain sluggish all day. I can't think of a better way to battle this then through what we are eating and how we balance out our blood sugars.

As you read above, my insulin usage and average numbers went down significantly. And yes, I did lose some weight that felt stuck. But, more so than the number on the scale I really felt like the Lord used this system and idea of self control to really stretch me into thinking about how I use food emotionally. Why do I eat the things I do when my day feels more stressful? Why do I feel a sense of entitlement to sugar every day? These are just some important questions that I believe were more emotionally rooted for me. Especially as a diabetic, its important to acknowledge how our physical well being plays so much into our emotional well being. If you are willing to ask the question, this program will definitely get you thinking.

So, how about you? Diabetic or not, have you tried Whole30? What did you learn?

Monday, December 15, 2014

the miracle marker

What is it about a miracle? Especially when you see one. How are they determined?
Is it our admittance to it? When the seemingly shocking happens.
When what seems to be impossible or grim (at best) suddenly does a 360 and there is cause to really rejoice?

It's easy to forget them. Miracles, that is.
For all the miraculous that happens, it's easy to dumb them down. To belittle them. To explain it away.
To be annoyed when we hear ourself or someone else to continue to talk about them.
That one moment. We always want to move on. I always want to move on.
To the next thing:
Ok I am done talking about that.
Ok I am done reliving and remembering that.
It's as if the miracle can only touch our faith for so long.

What are we doing to mark them out?
Miracles. Small and big (if there is such a thing as a small miracle).
Miracles that no one else may care about.
Acts, really, of God reaching down and showing us literal physical grace.
So close and real that we could reach out and touch it.
What am I doing to mark them out? The miracles.
What am I doing to remember them?

One year ago today I was cut from navel all the way down the length of my stomach.
And my baby. My sweet little Eden girl was gently pushed aside. All 19 weeks of her.
And my left ovary was lifted out. And a tumor the size of a grapefruit was cut out of me.
And I slept.
Not knowing if I would ever feel my daughter again.
Not knowing if I would ever see her grow outside of me.
Not knowing what the tumor was.
Not knowing if it was, you know, cancer.

And then. Miracle.
Not only did my little girl make it through surgery and the 24 hours that followed.
She made it until 34 weeks and then came into this world. All beautiful and loved and alive.
My left ovary was saved. And that tumor came back cancer free.
And the healing process that was physically and emotionally painful was all wrapped up in life.

You see, I read somewhere this week that it doesn't benefit us to ask: why, God?
Why me?
Why this?
Why them?
Why now?
But, rather, this writer suggested we ask: What now? What now Father? Because, she said, could we even grasp the answer? His ways. So much higher. His purpose. Not of this world. Not of human understanding. We can not understand God completely. Would He be God if we could?
There is something to glean from miracles. And trials. And trials that are even absent of a miracle that we can see with these physical eyes.
And I've been wrestling. For a whole year now. Wrestling with the why of this trial. Wrestling with the why of the miracle. Sometimes it's hard for us to except miracles in all their grace.
We want to pick it apart into tiny shreds until we figure out what exactly we did to deserve it.
I did nothing.

I've been wrestling with grace. At night when I lay my head down on a pillow. And all is calm. Except my heart.
It's rustling and stirring and asking tough questions about God's favor running out on me after this. And what about the next trial that comes? And what if I suffer again physically?
Because, God, I don't want to.
God I don't want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death again.

Staring at a clock for over two hours in a pre operating room. Listening to the rapid beat of my heart rate blaring over the machine next to me. It was me wrestling with my mind and doubt and so much fear I could swallow it. It was watching patient after patient be wheeled in. Sickness and fear all over their faces. Stories I didn't know. It was trying to repeat scripture over and over to squelch the battle raging. It was fragmented worship in my mind. It was frantic prayers.
Peace, be still.
You see, I've been wrestling with the valley. With the miracle. With the why.
And for a whole year, I don't think I've been able to ask what now?

This is my marker. My stake in the ground. I am marking the miracle. The grace. All undeserved.
I am marking the trial. To remember the weight of the miracle.

I am acknowledging that after all my wrestling I am no closer to understanding all the why.
But, the what now, that is a question that I believe God has been waiting to unwrap and show me. Does it not take faith to ask that question? To say: even though more trials come, it is well.
Though miracles hide, His grace and love are no less.

What now, God?
What would you have me do with this trial and miracle all intertwined?
What now God?
To dare to walk in the grace, the miracle, with no sight of the why.

Yes, God, I will.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

dear eden girl: an open letter to my daughter

dear precious Eden girl,
    I am blessed beyond words to be your mama. You see, your daddy and I knew we wanted you for a long time, but I don't think I was prepared to love you this much. It's kind of scary in some ways. I love you more than I could put into words. I loved you when you were growing in my tummy and I had never seen you face to face. I wept when I heard your cry for the first time. Instant love added to love. Layers upon layers of love. I'm not good at expressing these sentiments usually. It's (one of the many) faults that your mama has. But, I promise to be committed to letting you know, with my words, that I love you. You are my precious miracle child.

dear little Eden girl,
    I hope you know that you are a part of a much bigger story. One that centers around a God, a Savior. His name is Jesus. And He loves you more than I ever could. And He formed you and thought you up. And He gave you to me and your dada. And this whole story is about Him and how He came and died for you. Because we are sinful, my little girl. We are full of darkness and capable of hurtful things. But, this God man loves you. And He offers you grace. And you don't deserve it, and neither do I. But, grace is the most special wonderful gift. A relationship with Christ is the reason to live.To love Him and run after Him: that is the whole point of this life. I am praying for you even now. That you accept Him and love Him with your whole being. That you run hard after Jesus, no matter the cost.

dear baby Eden girl,
   your parents are not perfect. I hope you extend us the same grace that God extends to everyone. We will let you down. We will hurt you (unintentionally) and we will need your forgiveness. Please know that we are learning to be the best parents we can be to you. But, we are flawed. At the same time, we have stories to tell. Lessons that we have learned. Wisdom that has developed. Please trust us. Please trust us to want the very best for you and to act in a way that promotes that. I know, sometimes it will not seem that way. But, under the surface, there's a good chance we have walked where you someday will walk as well. We love you more than anyone on this planet does.

dear strong Eden girl,
   in this world you will face trouble. Pain will come. Tears too. Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Stay grounded in His Word. Stay active in prayer. So when your faith is tested, and it will be tested, you will be able to remember. That God is good. His Word is true. He has done good things (already) in your little life. And He has a purpose for you.

dear bold Eden girl,
   it will be easy to get distracted. This world offers many things. Fortune. Fame. Stuff. Don't let it take control of your heart and mind. Temporary things only offer temporary happiness. And there is no hope in running after having as much stuff as you can store. No hope in seeking the approval of man. No hope in relying on money to provide security. Everything that you have been given and will be given is all grace. It belongs to God. So, learn to give. Of your time. Of your talent. And of your treasure. Cultivate a heart of thankfulness. There is joy in living a life with open hands. Live a life that seeks to please Christ.

 dear loving Eden girl,
   you have a chance to love people. To really love them. To see past the outside to their greatest need. I pray that you learn to love people the way Jesus does. To be colorblind. To be blind to status. And appearance. And prejudice. There is more gray in this world than you may know. And sometimes people may appear to be something they are not. Love them regardless. Love them enough to do hard things.

 dear lovely Eden girl,
   you are beautiful. This has nothing to do with your physical appearance now or later. No matter what you think you have to look like. No matter what size people try to tell you you need to be. I am sure your dada will have plenty to say about boys that come around. And I will let him. Know this: a boy can not define you. And neither can a relationship with one.You are a beautiful strong little girl because of who you are. Because God says you are HIS. You are dearly loved. You have been bought with a price. Do not be afraid to stand out. Do not be afraid to speak your mind. Do not be afraid to march to the beat of a different drum. 

dear miraculous Eden girl,
   you should know that miracles do happen. That your little life speaks to that. You should also know that there is power in prayer. Your little life speaks to that as well. We know that God has called you to something someday for His glory. We are committed to encouraging you toward that. We love you baby girl. I love you. And I always always will.

-your mama

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Influence Conference 2014 Recap

I had my mind made up that I would not be attending the Influence Conference this year. I attended in 2013 for the first time (pregnant...and slightly nauseous and hating the smell of coffee). And it was amazing. But I now had a 6 month old little girl to attend to. My mind was settled.

Until the Holy Spirit nudged me.

There was only about a month and half left until the conference. And I felt the tug. I asked my husband if he would be willing to come along and help with Eden girl. He was. So, I took a small step of faith and bought my ticket. Booked my hotel room. And prayed that it would be worth it.

It was more than worth it. "Worth it" does not begin to explain this weekend. I feel like I sound like a broken record. But the Holy Spirit was there. And He was moving. And it felt as if these conversations and speakers were just for me. Because they spoke into areas of my life that are fresh and painful. And yet they also went even deeper to places that I thought I had left behind. That really just makes me pause in wonder. That the Spirit of God would meet us there and speak to us collectively and individually as the body of Christ.

There were casual conversations in the foyer with other women that turned into moments where the Holy Spirit used their words to speak truth into me. I have remembered those moments over and over since leaving. They were like a healing balm to me. And I just wanted to exclaim: "How did you know?"

The community group I attended was also so powerful to me. Just to know I was not alone in this whole "mothering-running a home-wife" thing.

Jess Connolly spoke words that could have not come at a better time. Some quotes from her session that hit me hard:
      God loves His kingdom. God hates my kingdom. He loves when I build His kingdom.

Sometimes we want to be for God. But we are not with Him. 

Repentance is bringing refreshment.

At the final worship session I felt the call of the Holy Spirit to lay my fears down. 
Fears that I have held onto for the last year.
Fears that have developed and grown down deep into my mind and emotions. 
As clear as day I knew I had to confess them out loud and lay them down. 
It was during this exact moment that the song "Cornerstone" started. 

 This was so significant to me because this song-- I held it close to my heart during my pregnancy with Eden. The lyrics to this song were the first thing to come to my mind when they found a tumor when I was 19 weeks pregnant. This song is the song I sang to Eden every day when she was growing in my tummy and I was changing my gauze to my incision from surgery. This song. 
I just felt my Savior whispering to me that He loves me. That His grace is enough.  
That He can heal the physical and emotional wounds. 
That it's time to find my identity in Him alone and not in past experiences. 

It's time to lay down the fear. It's time to build.

Are you coming next year?
And have you joined the Influence Network yet?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Point Betsie Lighthouse

There is just something about lighthouses. They feel risky, on the very edge of the tumultuous water. And at the same time, they feel like a huge safe haven. All tall and strong. Sending light out. Michigan has a lot of lighthouses. And I have not begun to see all of them with their stories of safety. But, we did have the chance to explore the lovely Point Betsie Lighthouse a couple weeks ago with our family. It feels tucked in. Almost in it's own private little world. The area surrounding it is simply beautiful. The stretching Lake Michigan views. Wildflowers growing wherever they can. And drifting white sand getting everywhere. Note to the adventurer: bring an extra pair of shoes.

We loved Eden's reaction to the rolling Lake Michigan. She dug her little toes into the sand and took it in. The water is still extremely cold. Even at the official end of summer. So, our toes are pretty much the only thing that touched the water's edge as well.
Maybe, next summer, when adventures continue, we will all get brave and take a dip.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

eden girl: month 2

 Some of my favorite moments with eden girl during her second month.

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